‘Don’t start the show by calling everyone a cunt,’ Jena Friedman chides herself. It’s a comment that shows the New York comic is keen to endear herself to British audiences, after a fashion. Her mile-a-minute stand-up show is stuffed with material for the same reason – she’s ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Not a fan of handjob jokes? Don’t worry, she’ll be onto Caitlin Jenner in a moment. Abortion material leave you cold? Be patient, #BlackLivesMatter is on the horizon. Each headline is slapped on the table, expertly filleted and disposed of before the audience gets a chance to savour it, which is a crying shame as it all seems so meticulously well prepared. ‘It’s hard for me to talk about Cosby, as he’s one of the all-time great anesthesiologists,’ she says, dispatching a few more related lines before moving onto eco-activism.
Friedman, who has credits on both ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Letterman’, is an expert writer – her sharp, close-to-the-bone one-liners translate just as well in hastily scribbled reviewer’s notes as they do onstage – but none of them get any time to breathe. You get the impression she’s rushing through a lengthy checklist of her best bits, perfected from years on the open mic circuit – references to 9/11 and Amanda Knox are still brutally effective, but they show their age. It’s all well and good that Friedman’s bringing her A material to the Fringe, but it’s like getting an overstuffed kebab when you can smell a juicy steak elsewhere.